BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
On March 21, 2019, young Nollywood filmmaker, Uche Odoh premiered the first season of Life as it Is, a 9-episode coming of age story of a young girl who is a fresh university graduate, trying to navigate life while dealing with family, friendships, relationships and building a career.
We are taken on an early adult life journey through the eyes of Nara commendably played by the talented Shalewa Ashafa. Ashafa can be remembered for her performance as Tundun in Tope Oshin’s 2017 film, Evol. Here, in Odoh’s work however, her character is unable to perform well as a fresh graduate, having problems in her family, relationships and career (or absence of it).
Nara is pretty much every young person in Nigeria. The way the country functions, it is almost impossible to not relate on a personal level to any of Nara’s battles. If you have a perfect family, it is unlikely that you have not been unemployed as a young graduate. If your chi watches your back on that front, you have probably been in a shitty love arrangement.
Also in the picture chanting indiscernibles is Most Holiness Apostle Miyagi (Lateef Adedimeji). Milking a single mother through false prophecies is his art. These set of people have made a home delivery version for their business, metamorphosing from the days of Wole Soyinka’s Bar Beach-inhabiting Jero. And Adedimeji is convincing in his portrayal of the spiritual con man.
Uche Odoh does some good work with this one. Being a cinematographer, it is almost easy for her to employ visuals to tell this coming of age story. Tomi Adesina‘s writing is good enough to give Life As It Is the youthful, social media feel the filmmaker no doubt intended. An evidence of this is when Naya says to her father’s wife, “Aunty you’re very very lucky I’m not in the mood to shift your wig.”
It is not only Sharon’s wig Nara is reluctant to shift though. She’s also not ready to compromise any of her moral standards in favour of either a reasonable pay job or a roof over her head. Her cousin doesn’t understand. Almost always, the one who believes that the end justifies the means does not understand why another cares a lot about the process. Everyone is doing it, so why shouldn’t you? Nigeria looks designed to frustrate. A young person is only faced with three options these days: be constantly frustrated, compromise or join the growing mass exodus to greener pastures. Nara won’t compromise and she hasn’t considered an exodus yet so she constantly meets with frustration. Nara’s mum, played by Uche Mac-auley will not shift too. She’s set in her ways. The apostle is always right, there is an evil spirit somewhere that isn’t letting her husband come home.
As Odoh’s first major solo filmmaking project, Life As It Is does well enough. She is careful not to bite more than she can chew and sticks to a somewhat simple story and medium. Ashafa as lead holds it all together really good. Adedimeji delivers a more-than-average performance too. Mac-auley gets a nod of appreciation for her acting. But scenes involving Christian Paul should be forgiven if they aren’t on anyone’s most anticipated list. Paul’s performances paled in comparison with Ashafas, for instance. There’s also an appearance for Big Brother Naija 2017 star, Bassey Ekpenyong. Shawn Faqua, Uche Nwaefuna and Chike Osebuka are other actors who play a part in this. Non-visual technicals such as sound design require better attention, however, if there ever will be a second season of the show.
But in all, Life As It Is is a good first attempt for Odoh.